In classical mythology there was Hercules, son of Zeus, known for his strength and bravery.

In West Orange, there was Turkules, a wild turkey, known for his chaos and badassery.

Going back to summer a wild turkey suddenly took up residence on a patch of grass along Pleasant Valley Way, squatting stubbornly there like one of those Occupy Wall Streeters in 2011.

Now if you know anything about wild turkeys, you know they can be aggressive. They’ve been known to challenge people, not back down, and in 2016 in Hillsdale, New Jersey a mailman was trapped in his mail jeep surrounded by them and had to call the police.

Photo via Matteo De Stefano

Then there’s this wild turkey that settled alongside that busy road in West Orange. He brought badass to a whole other level. So much so the locals quickly nicknamed him Turkules.

He would arrogantly face down traffic and refuse to yield and was known for causing mile-long backups. When pushed, Turkules pushed back, and won. Everyone in town seemed to talk about him.

In a weird way it united people. Yet the chaos got to be so much since summer that animal control officers finally stepped in to capture the bird.

Except, they couldn’t.

This formidable 3 foot badass eluded them at every turn. This cat and mouse game went on for weeks. His reputation grew.

At one point they resorted to shooting him with a tranquilizer dart. He. walked. it. off. In fact, he continued his reign of terror with that orange and blue dart just dangling from his breast. Like it was nothing.

Finally, according to, he was taken into custody. In my mind I’d like to think he was tired of life on the run and wanted to be caught.

Photo via clsgraphics and Canva
Photo via clsgraphics and Canva

Animal control officials relocated him by moving him to the forest in Hamilton. The town suddenly got quieter. They lost the hero they needed.

Some believe Turkules will find his way back.

God, I hope so.

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